In life, we set certain goals for ourselves in pursuit of happiness and success. We get an education, find a job, seek love and to start our own families, all of which takes planning, discipline and motivation. But what happens when things don’t go according to plan?

Despite careful planning and preparation for a life of happiness and success, life can bring unexpected challenges, a scenario from which none of us are immune. We all experience brokenness, tragedy, and unwelcome detours that seem to take us in a direction opposite of our original destination. Unfortunately, some experience these detours on a much larger scale than others.

It is for this reason that we must strive to be available with a helping hand, intentionally creating a community ready and willing to provide support and help to those who need it the most. Bob Dalton, founder of Sackcloth & Ashes is an example of someone who made it his mission to do just that.

sackcloth and ashes mission

Dalton was inspired to start his company in 2013 when his mother, the recipient of two college degrees, a manager of a restaurant and a homeowner, unexpectedly became homeless due to a combination of unfortunate circumstances. It was then that Bob realized that “not all choose to become homeless … some just need a second chance.” During this challenging time, his mother was on the other side of the country, making it difficult for him to help her directly. Still wanting to provide help in some way, he began calling homeless shelters to learn more about what supplies were most urgently needed. He noticed that the majority of homeless shelters he contacted were running desperately short on blankets. This inspired him to create a sustainable way of addressing the issue. He decided to start a blanket company with a “one for one” business model, so that for every blanket purchased, a warm, fleece blanket would be provided to someone in need. Sackcloth & Ashes distributes these blankets by zip code, providing you with the opportunity of directing the donation to your local shelter, thereby supporting your local community.

We all experience brokenness, tragedy, and unwelcome detours that seem to take us in a direction opposite of our original destination. Unfortunately, some experience these detours on a much larger scale …

The name Sackcloth & Ashes itself is a symbol of mourning and repentance. Derived from Jewish history and culture, often seen in the Old Testament of the Bible, one would wrap themselves in sackcloth during times of mourning and sit in ashes, or wipe the ashes on their forehead as a symbol of repentance. It was an outward sign of one’s inward condition. This was an inspiration for Dalton during the conceptualization of his company. Now, every time someone wraps themselves in a Sackcloth & Ashes blanket, it represents the mourning we experience for our homeless population, as well as the act of repentance we display through donation and service.

Buying a blanket from Sackcloth & Ashes is not like buying a blanket from just any other blanket company. This “one for one” model is something that we love, because having less traditional options to facilitate the service of giving to our homeless community is a welcomed and necessary avenue for many.

As women, there is often an ever present fear and vulnerability within us when put in situations too far outside our comfort zone. The comfort level necessary to volunteer at soup kitchens or shelters is one that many of us admire and want to be able to provide, however the combination of fear and compassion is often crippling for those who have a heart for service but a comfort level that might not allow them to serve in traditional ways. That is why companies like Sackcloth & Ashes are such a blessing. They give us a way to be a conscious consumer, and to make intentional shopping choices. Supporting companies like Sackcloth & Ashes means making the choice to invest in a brand that invests in others. We love the mindset of brands that make this their mission.

sackcloth and ashes blanket

Homelessness is not always a choice. Each person living on the streets is an individual, each with their own story. They are someone’s mother, father, daughter, or son. Somewhere in the maze of life their plan took a detour, and as a community it should be our privilege and duty to lend a helping hand. Purchasing a blanket from Sackcloth & Ashes provides us that opportunity. It is a way of extending your hand to give a gift of warmth and comfort. Imagine the possibilities if more companies follow in the footsteps of visionaries like Bob Dalton, basing their business structure on the “one for one” model. Each conscious purchase and investment that we make will serve a purpose.

Somewhere in the maze of life their plan took a detour, and as a community it should be our privilege and duty to lend a helping hand.

“So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.” (Daniel 9:3) Whatever your beliefs, whatever your comfort, let us unite with Sackcloth & Ashes in this spirit of giving, and work together to serve our homeless communities.

To learn more and find out ways to support Sackcloth & Ashes, check out their shop HERE and follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  

Images via Athena GraceWritten by Darling Digital Media Intern Jessica Tomkins

1 comment

  1. I just discovered your magazine today, and I am absolutely and totally in love with it. This piece of art combines everything I value in life: awareness of life’s simple beauties, having a philanthropic mindset, and empowering women. It’s my goal to someday create something meaningful and beautiful, and Darling has greatly inspired me to say the least.

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